The acceleration of quality education in rural schools through systemic curriculum management : a practitioner researcher perspective.
I used Soft Systems Methodology (SSM), a practitioner research methodology to foster organisational learning in poor performing schools. School Management Teams (SMTs) have a role to play in accelerating the delivery of quality education through sound management of curriculum. A closer analysis of learner performance, departmental conference discussions and school visit reports in poor performing schools in Sabie and White Hazy Circuits highlighted some of the crucial issues that informed this study. Ten schools from the two circuits were identified for the study and curriculum management discussions were held with individual and groups of SMT members in their respective schools. The participative nature of SSM provided the opportunity to initiate further debates and discussions that enabled SMT members to understand the nature of management problems and developed intervention strategies that included SMT conferences, circuit-based SMT workshops and SMT functionality support visits. The SMT functionality visits were ongoing programmes in the two circuits. The purpose of these programmes was to identify and propose solutions to poor performance challenges resulting from dysfunctional and ineffective SMT members. The intervention sessions provided a platform for the sharing of good practices regarding instructional leadership and curriculum management to provide quality learning. Using SSM in the intervention sessions enabled SMT members to put in place curriculum management systems, develop monitoring programmes and account for learner performance. During SMT support visits programmes to support SMT members in adhering to their annual management plans, effective use of curriculum management tools, quality reporting and implementing school-based teacher development programmes would be monitored. Monthly reporting developed by consolidating reports by individual education specialists served as indicators about the state of management of curricula in the schools.